May is coming to an end, so it’s time for the monthly Cozy recommendations thread!
If you read a Cozy mystery this month and want to recommend it to the rest of us, be sure to post it here! For this month, I read another frequently recommended book, the first entry in Paige Shelton’s Scottish Bookshelf Mystery Series. For the reasons I want to recommend it, be sure to check out the blog entry!
So, what have you been reading that you can recommend in May? Please be sure to tell us why you liked these Cozies so much. I know we’re all always on the lookout for more particularly good Cozy Mystery authors! (If you have a lot of Cozies you think are great, please post the ones you like the most at the top of the list.)
As always, please do not tell us about the Cozy Mysteries you did not like.
What really good Cozy Mystery did you read during May 2019 that you want the rest of us to know about, and why did you enjoy it?
Here are the current recommended authors who some of you have read and recommended this past month:
Ellery Adams (aka J. B. Stanley, Jennifer Stanley, & 1/2 of Lucy Arlington): Book Retreat Mystery Series
Barbara Allan: Trash ‘N’ Treasures Mystery Series
Juliet Blackwell (aka Hailey Lind): Witchcraft Mystery Series
Bethany Blake: Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery Series
Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber): Wishcraft Mystery Series
Leo Bruce: Furious Old Women
V.M. Burns: Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series
Lynn Cahoon: Cat Latimer Mystery Series
Anne Canadeo (aka Katherine Spencer): Black Sheep Knitting Mystery Series
Vivien Chien: Noodle Shop Mystery Series
Laura Childs (aka Gerry Schmitt): Tea Shop Mystery Series
Sheila Connolly (aka Sarah Atwell): Victorian Village Mystery Series AND Orchard Mystery Series
Elizabeth Spann Craig (aka Riley Adams & Elizabeth Craig): Southern Quilting Mystery Series
Krista Davis: Domestic Diva Mystery Series AND Pen & Ink Mystery Series
Julianna Deering: Drew Farthering Mystery Series
Carola Dunn: Daisy Dalrymple Mystery Series
Lauren Elliott: Bookstore Mystery Series (first entry Murder By the Book)
Sharon Farrow (aka 1/2 of D.E. Ireland): Berry Basket Mystery Series
Janet Finsilver: Kelly Jackson Mystery Series
Amanda Flower (aka Isabella Alan): Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series
Eva Gates (aka Vicki Delany): Lighthouse Library Mystery Series
Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames): Cookbook Nook Mystery Series
Elly Griffiths: Ruth Galloway Mystery Series (first entry The Crossing Places)
Ruth Hartzler: Amish Cupcake Cozy Mystery Series (first entry True Confections)
Abigail Keam: Josiah Reynolds, Beekeper Mystery Series
Amy Lillard: Amish Mystery Series (first entry Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper)
Alyssa Maxwell: Gilded Newport Mystery Series
Jenn McKinlay (aka Josie Belle & Lucy Lawrence): Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series
Patricia Moyes: Henry Tibbett Mystery Series
Carlene O’Connor: Irish Village Mystery Series
Paige Shelton: Scottish Bookshelf Mystery Series
Karen Rose Smith: Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery Series
Viveca Sten: Sandhamn Murders Mystery Series (first entry Still Waters)
Victoria Thompson: Gaslight Mystery Series
Livia J. Washburn: Fresh-Baked Mystery Series
I will list the authors and series that have been recommended, but I urge you to read the comments below so you can see the reasons other Cozy Mystery readers thought these were their best reads of the month.
♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦
P.S. I usually don’t comment on your recommendations since they speak for themselves.
Jade Wilkinson says
A new series by Shelia Connelly. The Victorian Village.
Carol in Kansas says
One I just finished is Eva Gates’ A Lighthouse Library Mystery, Something Read Something Dead.
I can always tell when I have hit the jackpot in a book. If I’m close to the end, I want to hurry up and find out who “done” it; but I don’t want it to end! Eva’s characters are interesting, believable and sometimes unpredictable. Love Charles. I want to bring him home. Can hardly wait to get the next book.
Carol, Exactly! am just about to finish the first one and want to hurry up too! Interesting characters indeed.
Some may have already read this( am slow I know !) but I finished the first in Julianna Deering’s Drew Fathering series Rules of Murder. It was like watching a movie from that era. Got invested in the characters right away. She has a way of eluding that makes you feel like there is a red flag but you don’t know why exactly, had to stop and think ,”what was that about , or why did he give that look?” very subtle. I spoke to her on her facebook page and she replied there will be four more in there series after Death at Thornburn Hall. Yay!
Deb B says
I’ve become hooked on Daryl Wood Gerber’s Cookbook Nook Mysteries. West coast, oceanside “artsy” little town with the best “kooks” I’ve run across in a while. Love the cookbook references and the recipes are fabulous. Just starting book #4 of 8 and have to slow myself down so I don’t get through them too quickly.
Knot What it Seams (Southern Quilting Mystery) Elizabeth Craig
Great senior characters.
The Diva Paints the Town (Domestic Diva Series) Krista Davis
I like that this one seemed to be jammed pack with characters and plot.
Assaulted Caramel (Amish Candy Shop Mystery) Amanda Flower
The candy shop makes this one unique.
Kappy King and the Pie Kaper (An Amish Mystery) Amy Lillard
A great blend of pie focus and silliness; which I love in a cozy!
True Confections (An Amish Cupcake Mystery) Ruth Hartzler
Another cast of fun seniors and an interesting cat.
What I appreciated most out of all these reads were that each one was perfectly clean. No profanity or sexual content!
Barb E says
I already read and like Flower, Davis, and Craig. What I’m always on the lookout for is more cozy Amish or Mennonite mysteries so I’m very anxious to try Lillard and Hartzler. Thanks for the recommendations!
TERRYE ROBINS says
Barb, I read a LOT of Amish novels. Marta Perry writes quite a few mysteries that are quite good. Virginia Smith & Karen Harper also write them.
I read The Diva Sweetens The Pie by Krista Davis. This is one series that has not become stale. The latest book does not disappoint; it is entertaining from beginning to end. I found myself racing to the end to find out who the killer was. Along the way, I met characters that are well thought out, and filled with funny personalities. I like Sophie, the sleuth, because she is smart, kind, and talented. I look forward to the next book in the series.
Susy S says
KG – I really enjoyed this book as well. The twist and the end was most unexpected.
I am never disappointed in any book by Krista Davis.
Danna, thank you for this. there used to be a Cozy Mystery subscription box service that I had, via Cratejoy, and “The Cracked Spine” was in one of the boxes, along with relevant merchandise, primarily via Etsy Shops, and I think there was also an autographed card from Ms. Shelton, herself.
I think most of the readers of your Cozy Mystery List Blog know my preference is for the Witch/Psychic themes in Cozy Mysteries.
However, I have noticed my desire to cook at home more often has increased. As a result, I find myself being more drawn to food-themed Cozy Mysteries. As for “The Cracked Spine,” I was very interested after reading the synopsis, so I look forward to this series of Cozy Mysteries, too.
However, I must confess I AM most drawn to Ms. Shelton’s “A Dangerous Type” and “Farmers’ Market” Series of Cozy Mysteries, so I look forward to enjoying those over the next few months.
I started with “Furious Old Women” by Leo Bruce who is not listed on this site. Never heard of him but, obviously, found it at a used bookstore some years back. It takes place in the 60s in a small town in England. The hero is Carolus Deene, an independently wealthy individual who teaches English at a boys school – to keep him busy. But he is also a consultant who is being called – here by an individual – to solve a murder. The victim was apparently robbed of money and Jewelry and then thrown into an open grave – dug for an upcoming burial – and covered with soil. The curate with a sharp eye realized that the grave was not deep enough and found the body. This is in a small town – thus, it is cozy, to my eyes and, yes, is full of “Furious women.” Next, a second body is found and the official conclusion is that the town is dealing with a murder and an accidental death. As with Agatha Christy, at the end Deene details the events and his conclusion to close friends.
I also continued with Patrician Moyes’ “Murder Fantastical.” Inspector Tibbett is called to a small town to investigate a death form a gun shot. It happened at the estate of a family where the members have a unique way of communicating and rarely listen to what their conversation mates are saying. What was unique to me, was that with several paragraphs I was laughing hard, really hard at the comic events and at the attempts of explanation by a member of the family. Yes, Tibbett solved the problem, and more. As with other Mayes’ books, a publishing house picked it for republishing and in the introduction I found this: “Some authorities have deplored the introduction of humor into detective fiction. The 30s saw the genesis of what was named “Silly Assery” with the creation of gentleman detectives like Lord Peter Wimsey and Albert Campion. The title is from Macbeth.”
I also read Krista Davis’ The Coloring Crook. I prefer to read the print issues, but on occasions I download a book from the library into my iPad. I know that coloring books have been popular in the past years and it is obvious that the only books that have to be in a print form are the coloring books. Once again, the heroine – Florrie Fox, the manager of the coloring book store, as well as designer of drawings – finds a body of a dear friend and a customer. The finding in an estate sale of a rare old book of coloring, and the release from prison of an art thief converge to keep us turning the pages. Davis has a breezy style that ends each chapter in a “cliffhanger” that makes it hard to put down.
Last, going down at the list of most recommended, I found Carola Dunn and really like her. Her first book: “Death at Wenteater Court” has an interesting plot and we are introduced to interesting characters and scenery at post WW1 England. The heroine, Daisy Dalrymple goes against the norm of living at the home of her mother or with relatives until being rescued by a husband, preferable of nobility background. She loves to write and convinced the editor of a magazine to let her visit an estate to describe it, to report of historical events and, also new – to take photographs using old heavy equipment. Another guest dies in an apparent skating accident on a frozen lake, but Daisy’s photos of the scene suggest otherwise. She works with a detective from the Scotland Yard and a later photo of the family taken during unguarded moments to reveal many hidden emotions, helps solve the mystery.
Hanna, Glad to see your comments on Carola Dunn’s book I’ve found a few at the library bookshop but have ordered the first one, and yes I do like to start from the beginning! What sounds appealing to me is she sounds like a woman ahead of her time “against the norm” so she is not bound by what society says, but educates herself to help beyond the norm. Thanks, happy reading.
Rita Ingersoll says
I just finished Blackberry Burial by Sharon Farrow. Very good. Compassionate bakery owner, trying to protect her baker from police and his former classmates. Loved the story line and just enough laughs.
May recommendations – 2019
The Diva Sweetens the Pie — Krista Davis
This is the 12th book in this popular series set in Old Town, VA, and is often recommended on this site.
In this book a famous best-selling chef (Patsy) is invited to be a celebrity judge for an annual local pie contest. She is originally from Old Town and knows several of the residents from her past.
Patsy is the murder victim. Sophie, the protagonist, gets involved in seeking a solution. There are so many entanglements to this story. There’s another murder from the past that comes to light involving some of the same characters.
This book is sort of yada, yada, same-o, same-o, NOT because it’s boring, but because Davis always writes an interesting mystery (so, what more is there to say!).
Davis lists the characters in the beginning of the book which is a real plus and helps when following the story. HOWEVER, she omitted her boyfriend from this list. He plays a major role in this story.
This is a cryptic statement if you haven’t read this book yet………………….I had some of the same ‘shocking’ thoughts as Sophie did in the last few chapters, and was pleased with her decision on the final pages of the book.
Murder at the Marina — Janet Finsilver
I wanted to bring this book to Danna’s attention — NOT because she may like the characters, the setting, or the story. BUT because it’s only 178 pages!!!! (A few years ago, Danna mentioned she liked stories to be under 200 pages! AND, I know I’m being repetitive, because I always mention this when I read a book of this size.)
Actually, I happen to like the varied characters with interesting backgrounds. Kelly is the manager of a Bed and Breakfast in CA. She helps the ‘Silver Sentinels’ solve crimes. Two of the silver sentinels are originally from Russia. A body is found on their boat and they are suspects. So, of course, the group gathers together to find the culprit, and free their friends from suspicion.
Finsilver did some Russian research to highlight this aspect of the story, adding to its appeal. It’s well paced with interesting twists. An enjoyable ‘short’ read.
Murder in the Reading Room – Ellery Adams
This is an intense mystery series, somewhat unusual for this author. There’s been an ongoing mystery story line which FINALLY concludes with this book. Adams certainly employs original and creative thinking skills in writing this series. I’ve always found the premise of the series somewhat unbelievable, but then it is fiction. Totally SHOCKING twist in this story. However, it’s important to start with the first book to understand the dynamics of the whole series.
I would not be surprised if this was the last book in the series. I felt it was sort of a ‘wrap up’ book.
Wed, Read, and Dead — V. M. Burns
After reading the intensity of the above book, I needed something light to read. This entertaining story certainly filled the bill. It’s set in southwest Michigan. I had a real ‘duh’ moment when reading this story.
Protagonist Sam Washington owns a bookstore. In all 3 books she mentions driving her ‘senior’ friends to a casino in River Bend, IN. It took me ALL 3 books to realize that the ‘River Bend’ description is really South Bend. DUH! I then looked at the author’s biography and realized she is originally from South Bend. (It takes some people, like me, longer to ‘catch on’.)
Sam’s mother is getting married in a few weeks. There are a lot of complications planning a wedding in such a short time. The groom’s sister-in-law hires a wedding planner. Her ideas are not what the bride-to-be wants. This is the third book I’ve read this year about a bride being upset when others takeover their plans. In all three cases it takes most of the book for the bride to step up to the plate and object. I may think it’s a dumb premise, but it’s what some authors wanted to base their stories on.
Sam is also an author. She writes her English historical mystery throughout this book. HOWEVER, as I’ve explained in the previous books I’ve recommended in this series, I’m NOT interested in that story line, so I just skip it. It doesn’t add to the main story, so I doubt I’m missing anything by omitting it.
The character dynamics is written with humor and wit, thus making this series particularly enjoyable. This mystery plot is involved and holds the readers’ interest throughout the story. It moves along nicely with fairly smooth writing.
Vicki L. says
I agree with Danna, I much prefer mysteries that are around 200 pages. Why are all the new mysteries 300+ pages?? To justify the price?
If you like shorter mysteries, check out Marian Babson’s books from the eighties and nineties. She was an American who lived in Britain and wrote British cozies.
I particularly like her Trixie and Evangeline series (former movie stars from the golden age who relocate to England and get involved with murder) very fun and VERY British.
I like my mysteries short and sweet!
Diane Davis says
Completely agree about Marion Babson! One of my favorites!
I think one reason books have so many pages these days is that the print is larger than it used to be.
I read Barbara Allan’s Antiques Ravin’. It’s about Brandy and her mother who is a real character and a sheriff in this book. She’s also an actress so a play is in the book. Very funny.
Paula Catherine says
I just finished book 1 in Lynn Cahoon ‘s series with Cat Latimer. She inherited a home that belonged to her deceased ex husband. She and a friend have a fledgling B&B for writers. Naturally trouble is on the menu. There were interesting twists and look forward to the second one.
I also just finished book 2 in Paige Shelton series. Danna is spot on, I would love to visit the Cracked Spine in Scotland.
I’m coming way late to this series, it is 20 or so books in, but I’ve just gotten a real toe-hold in the Tea Shop Mystery series by Laura Childs. I’m liking it almost against my will. Theodosia (who is NEVER called “Theo”) is not really the kind of heroine I generally relate to. She’s slender, petite, a clothes-horse…all the things I’m not…but I like her anyway. AND I’ve learned a lot about different teas and how to brew them properly. OH…and the recipes in the back sound really good. I’ve tried two now, and they turned out very well, indeed!
I’m late with you! That’s the great thing about books, they are always there waiting for us! I have read just the first two. I rotate my reading so as not to deplete a series too soon! but have to admit I do want to continue on in this series! Theodosia is a nice character as they all are at the shop. The character interaction is good. Once you have a good set of people, you follow them confidently in the story lines. Happy reading!
Susy S says
Bek, Next up for me in this series is Chamomile Morning. I read these in wave of 2, 3 or 4 in a row and then jump to something else.
Recently I have been in a period of reading straight through a series, so I am mostly sticking to series under 10 books. Who know what the urge will be next month, but I have PLENTY of books waiting for my attention.
Answering both Susy S AND Novella here, I’m big on binge-reading a series. I like to totally immerse myself in the author’s world, and inhabit it in a very organic way. I do take a break between series and read 3-4 stand-alone, non-cozies just to clear my palate, as it were. My next binge session will be Rita Mae Brown’s “Mrs. Murphy” series, and after that, Lillian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who” series…
Of course, I do end up reading a lot of singles, as new books come out.
I loved the whole Witch mystery series by Julia Blackwell. I enjoy the characters. They have become my friends. Different story line for me. Just waiting till June 25 for the next one to come out.
Me, too! I loved this series. I know I’ll be re-reading it. It has a permanent place on my shelves.
The Stone Circle (Ruth Galloway #11) – Elly Griffiths – is a very satisfying addition to the series. It offers a flashback to the first book, but everyone has grown up now, including Ruth’s daughter, Kate, who is Nelson’s daughter. The mystical aspects of the story aren’t overbearing, and all of the main characters have roles to play. I really like Ruth as she’s very human – middle aged, overweight, dealing with life’s vagaries.
Janice G says
I also read this book this month but forgot to include it in my recommendations. I love this series. Elly Griffiths writes in such a fluid style that despite the books length, you can read it quickly. She is able to convey the setting and atmosphere so clearly that you feel like you are on the saltmarsh.
Brenda York says
I love Lauren Elliott’s new series Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery! I have the first to and can’t wait for the next one. Great characters and very interesting plots.
Susy S says
I read the first seven books in Heather Blake’s Wishcraft series. Obviously, the first one sucked me in and I just gobbled them up.
It is a ‘witch’ book series, so obviously not realistic, but the characters were great. I really like Darcy and her sister Harper. I like that even some characters that an not very nice are portrayed as complex individuals with good and bad qualities. I also liked that though the clues were usually there, I did not figure out who did it until the end.
I also read the latest Jenn McKinlay Cupcake book, which I also really liked. In this one it is class reunion time and Mel really does not want to go because of the bullying she experienced in school. The killer is someone completely unexpected and the one everyone thinks it a bad guy turns out to be a pretty decent person.
I also read the latest Krista Davis, Ellery Adams and Lea Wait which were all very good. I was a good month and I have read 20 books so far (yea for retirement), many of which are from authors I have only recently started reading, like Paige Shelton, Rose Pressey and Claire Donally.
Janice G says
I just finished reading the newest book in one of my favorite series – Something Borrowed, Something Mewed by Bethany Blake. Daphne is trying to find out who killed her sister’s wedding planner so that the marriage can take place. The groom and a few of his family members are suspects. At the same time, Daphne and Jonathan are trying to figure out their relationship as he is facing a career change. The ending was a surprise.
I would also recommend Dying for Devil’s Food, the latest in Jenn McKinlay’s Cupcake Shop series. Mel, Angie, and Tate attend their high school reunion and as anyone who reads cozies knows, these parties never turn out well. As a side note, I saw on Amazon yesterday that a new book is being released in Jenn McKinlay’s Hat Shop series – Buried to the Brim is coming out in January. It’s a long wait but I had just about given up on any new books in this series.
Murder on Trinity Place by Victoria Thompson was another very interesting book in this series. The murder takes place on New Year’s Eve 1899 and the victim is the owner of a dairy who has strong opinions on whether or not this is the start of the 20th century. He is also the father-in-law of the Malloy’s neighbor and his daughter hires Frank’s detective agency to find the killer since the police have been bribed to drop the investigation. The author provides historical information such as the “milk wars” that occurred during this period as well as the application of law enforcement but the history does not impact the flow of the story.
I read two series this month that I enjoyed very much! The Sandhamn murders, by Viveca Sten and the Josiah Reynolds mysteries by Abigail Keam. The first is translated from Swedish and is very spare and cool, but not nearly as much the Wallendar books. Not as gloomy and depressed. The setting is the Stockholm Archipelago, and it is beautifully described! Makes me want to vacation there! The core characters are interesting and complex. It took me a few books to warm up to them, though the setting had me right from the start. If you are looking for a read that’s evocative of place, but feels a bit alien/different, try these books. Probably most would put them in the “not quite cozy” category, but there’s no sex and very little swearing.
The Josiah Reynolds books are 180 degrees different. Kentucky Bluegrass, beekeeping, horses, food! All very cozy. But! The characters populating these novels have very real and debilitating issues. I’ve never read a cozy series in which the heroine is so challenged. These books are hilarious! Sly, witty dialogue. Old movie quotes. Large, changing cast of supporting players. Art. Jewels. Lots of fun!
Susy S says
Susy, It looks like we might just confuse a few people. I will have to be sure I ALWAYS remember to add my last initial.
Susy L says
I’ve never met another Susy. Susie or Suzy yes. I’ll try to remember to use my last initial. I don’t post much, though.
Susy S says
Same here, though I have known they existed because I couldn’t get vanity plates with my name for years. I do have Susy now, and I don’t plan to give it up as long as I have a car, which should be many years.
Virginia Jones says
Three of the cozies I’ve read this month were continuations of series that I’ve enjoyed. None disappointed. They were:
Sifting through Clues by Daryl Wood Gerber
Dying for Devil’s Food by Jenn McKinlay (One of my favorite series)
A Deadly Feast by Lucy Burdette
A new series I started and enjoyed was Murder in Galway by Carlene O’Connor, which is another of the Barnes and Noble “exclusives”. Annoying, but luckily I have two stores nearby.
I guess I don’t understand why an author would only release a book through one source. It certainly limits the sales. It’s not like B&N is the publisher. Kensington is.
You brought it to our attention, Virginia. But if you hadn’t, we wouldn’t know about it. Seems kind of dumb to me. BUT maybe someone else knows how this benefits the author.
It’s not even in worldcat (thus, no libraries will have it). Danna doesn’t have it listed under this author’s name on this site, either.
I enjoy her Irish Village series. O’Connor is a creative author.
BTW, I like your ‘excellent’ reading tastes . 🙂 I have the three books you mentioned on my bookshelf, but haven’t read them yet. I really enjoy all three of these authors.
The Hat Shop mysteries is my favorite of McKinlay’s series. However, I do enjoy all three of her current series.
I love Vivien Chein Noodle Shop Mystery series and Karen Rose Smith’s Daisy’s Tea Garden mysteries… So good!
I have been most recently enjoying the Guilded Newport Mystery Series by Alyssa Maxwell. A glimpse into the history of Newport, RI’s elite and a little murder mystery all rolled into one. Back in the day, I frequented Newport and was always in awe.
TERRYE ROBINS says
I enjoyed “Red Delicious Death” by Sheila Connolly, “Knit, Purl, Die” by Anne Canadeo, and “Murder By the Slice” by Livia J. Washburn. All of these series are good.
Mitzi B says
Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries by Ellery Adams; Dark Chocolate Demise, Vanilla Beaned, Caramel Crush, and Wedding Cake Crumble
in the Cupcake Bakery series by Jenn MacKinlay; Bakeshop Mystery series by Ellie Alexander; and Lila Dare’s Southern Beauty Shop Mysteries. None of these disappointed! Being from the Pacific Northwest, I especially liked the Bakeshop Myteries, with pastry chef Jules Capshaw.
Susy S says
Mitzi, I have real all but the Lila Dare books and like you, enjoyed them all. I especially like the Cupcake Bakery series by Jenn McKinlay, in part because it is set in Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix – my home town.
I have a Lila Dare book on my TBR shelves, so maybe I will try that one next.